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Full text of "The crime on the road Malaga-Almeria : narrative with graphic documents revealing fascist cruelty"

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crime m the mid 

h\nUupi \lm?m 

p U B L I C A C 1/ N?E S IBERIA 

' II 


The crimen the iml 


Narrative with graphic documents 
revealing fascist cruelty 


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Dr. Bethune and his comrades Hazen Sise and Thomas Worsley 


Most of the people, crazed by panic and desperation, look the 
road to Motril and Almeria. A whole town in flight. They fled from 
Malaga; which had just been occupied by the legions of Italians and 
Germans, by Moors and the Tercio. 

On the right of the road open to the sea, the guns of the pirate 
ships were pouring out fire, seconded by the units of the German 
and Italian squadrons. Beneath the explosion of grenades, which 
sowed death, there opened in the human torrent which advanced 
unceasingly, tragic gaps: hundreds of women, men, old people and 
children, fell, never to rise again, horribly hit: From the sky, of a 
passive blue, the swooped down —also German and Ita- 
lian— and sowed with the lead of their machine-guns,, death wherever 
they pleased. 

On the left of the road, the scarps of the Sierra Nevada cut 
off all hope of escape for those who fled. From sky and sea the cold 
br.eath of death extinguished thousands of lives. Under the noise 
of exploding shells and the rattle of machine guns from the aero- 

■rf'i'f&i -i -i i »■ # 

planes, the multitude continued 
their hasty march, their career of 
desperation and infinite anguish. 
Their goal was still very distant 
and tihey had no means of shor- 
tening it. 

Very soon — it was the day of 
the 10 of February' — an ambulan- 
ce, painted grey, attempted to open 
a way, in the opposite direction to 
that of the tumultuous human to- 
rrent. To the right and left of the 
road, hundreds of wounded, chil- 
dren calling in vain for their pa- 
rents, and fainting women, with 
Helping the refugees to get into the am- feel horribly swollen and bleeding 
bulance from the long tramp, tormented 

by hunger and thirst, had fallen completely overcome. Others fell 
dead. The ambulance carried on its sides the following inscription: 
((Permanent service of blood transfusion)-,. On the front seal, dr,essed 
in blue overalls were three men: the Canadian doctor, Norman Bet- 
hune, his assistant Hazen Sice and the driver, also Canadians. These 
three men were among the first to go to the aid of the sick, children, 
women and wounded, who fled from Malaga and the villages on the 
way from that capital to Almeria, impelled by the terror o) fascist do- 
mination. Three heroes, three magnificent figures of human sojjfe 
darity. For seven days these men confronted dangers of every kind, 
suffered hunger and thirst and saved from certain death hundreds- oj 
women and children, whom they carried in iheir ambulance from 
the fascist lines to Almeria. The names of Dr. Norman Bethune and 
his collaborators, in this work of unexampled unselfishness and sa- 
crifice, deserve to be perpetuated, with' a cull of devotion and affec- 


Dr. Bethune, chief of the sanitary expedition 

Dialogue in lliu streets of Almeria 

tionate admiration, in the memo- 
ries of all the honourable cons- 
ciences in the world. It is not a 
question of some combatants: it 
is a question of three personalities 
of the highesi moral calibre, who 
possess above everything else a 
deep and austere feeling of sacri- 
fice for their kind. The descrip- 
tions which are published in this 
pamphlet are from the honoured, 
pen of the eminent Dr. Norman 
Bethune, on the subjec'. of the te- 
rrible march undertaken by the 
Spaniards of the city of Malaga, 
the frightened exodus of a whole 
town, who preferred death a thou- 
sand times rather than submit to 
the criminal tyranny of fascism. 
Dr. Bethune, with his just and 
impartial words, will denounce be- 
fore the world the crime committed 
— -one more and one of the most 
monstrous — against the Spanish 
people by the foreign hordes which 
are fighting to subjugate [hem un- 
der the black tyranny of fascist 



The evacuation en masse of the civilizan population of Malaga 
started on Sunday Feb. 7. Twentyfive thousand German, Italian and 
Moorish troops entered the town en Monday morning the eighth. 
Tanks, submarines, warships, airplanes combined to smash the de- 
fenses of the city held by a small heroic band of Spanish troops without 
tanks, airplanes or support. The so-called Nationalists entered, as 
they have entered every captured village and city in Spain, what was 
practically a deserted town. 

Now imagine one hundred and fifty thousand men women and 
children setting out for safety to the town situated over a hundred 
miles away. There is only one road they can take. There is no other 
way of escape. This road, bordered on one side by the high Sierra Ne- 
vada mountains and on the other by the sea, is cut into the side of the 
cliffs and climbs up and down from sea-level to over 500 feet. The 
city they must reach is Almeria, and it is over two hundred kilometers 
away. A strong, healthy young man can walk on foot forty or fifty 
kilometers a day. The journey these women children and old people 
must face will take five days and five nights at least. There will be no 
food to be found in the villages, no trains, no buses to transport them. 
They must walk and as they walked they staggered and stumbled 
with cut, bruised feet along that flint, white road the fascists bombed 
them from the air and fired at them from their ships at sea. 

Now, what 1 want to tell you is what I saw myself of this forced 
march — the largest, most terrible evacuation of a city in modern 
times. We had arrived in Almeria at five oclock on Wednesday the 
tenth with a refrigeration truckload of preserved blood from Barce- 
lona. Our intention was to proceed to Malaga to give blood trans- 

fusions to wounded. In Almeria we heard for the first time that the 
town had fallen and were warned to go no farther as no one knew 
where the frontline now was but everyone was sure that the town of 
Motril had also fallen. We thought it important to proceed and 
discover how the evacuation of the wounded was proceeding-. We set 
out at six o'clock in the evening along the Malaga road and a few 
miles on we met the head of the piteous procession. Here were the 
strong with all their goods on donkeys, mules and horses. We passed 
them, and the farther we went the more pitiful the sigh is became. 
Thousands of children, we counted live thousand under ten years of 
age, and a! least one thousand of them barefoot and many of them 
clad only in a single garment. They were slung over their mother's 
shoulders or clung to her hands. Here a father staggered along with 
(wo children of one and two years of age on his back in addition to 
carrying pots and pans or some treasured possession. 'Hie incessant 
stream of people became so dense we could barely force the car 
through them. At eighty eight kilometers from Almeria they beseeched 
us to go no farther, that the fascists were just behind. By this time 
we had passed so many distressed women and children that we thought 
it best to turn back and start transporting the worst cases to safety. 
It was difficult to choose which to take. Our car was besieged by 
a mob of frantic mothers and fathers who with tired outstretched arms 
held up to us their children, their eyes and faces swollen and congested 
by four days of sun and dust. 

«Take this one.» ((See this child. » ((This one is wounded. » Children 
with bloodstained rags wrapped around their arms and legs, children 
without shoes, their feet swollen to twice their size crying helplessly 
from pain,, hunger and fatigue. Two hundred kilometers of misery. 
Imagine four days and four nights, hiding by day in the hills as 
the fascist barbarians pursued them by plane, walking by night 

packed in a solid stream men, women, children, mules, donkeys, 
goats, crying out the names of their separated relatives, lost in the 
mob. How could we chose between taking a child dying of disentery 
or a mother silently watching us with great sunken eyes carrying 
against her open breast her child born on the road two days ago. She 
had stopped walking for ten hours only. Here was a woman of sixty 
unable to stagger another step, her gigantic swollen legs with their 
open varicose ulcers bleeding into her cut linen sandals. Many old 
people simply gave up the struggle, lay down by the side of the road 
and waited for death. 

We first decided to take only children and mothers. Then the sepa- 
ration between father and child, husband and wife became too cruel 
to bear. We finished by transporting families with the largest number 
of young children and the solitary children of which there were 
hundreds without parents. We carried thirty to forty people a trip 
for the next three days and nights back to Almeria to the hospital of 
the Socorro Rojo International where they received medical attention, 
food and clothing. The tireles devotion of Hazen Sise and Thomas 
Worsley, drivers of the truck, saved many lives. In turn they drove 
back and forth day and night sleeping out on the open road between 
.shifts with no food except dry bread and oranges. 

And now comes the final barbarism. Not content with bombing and 
shelling this procession of unarmed peasants on this long road, but on 
the evening of the 12th when the little seaport of Almeria was comple- 
tely filled with refugees, its population swollen to double its size, when 
forty thousand exhausted people had reached a haven of what they 
thought was safety, we were heavily bombed by German and Italian 
fascist airplanes. The siren alarm sounded thirty seconds before the 
first bomb fell. These planes made no effort to hit the government 
battleship in the harbor or bomb the barracks. They deliberately 

dropped ten great bombs in the very center of the town where on 
the main street were sleeping huddled together on the pavement so 
closely that a car could pass only with difficulty, the exhausted re- 
fugees. After the planes had passed I picked up in my arms three dead 
:hildren from the pavement in front of the Provincial Committee for the 
Evacuation of Refugees where they had been standing in a great quene 
waiting for a cupful of preserved milk and a handful of dry bread, 
the only food some of them had for days. The street was a shambles 
of the dead and dying, lit only by the orange glare of burning 
buildings. In the darkness the moans of the wounded children, shrieks 
of agonized mothers, the curses of the men rose in a massed cry 
higher and higher to a pitch of intolerable intensity. One's body felt 
as heavy as the dead themselves, but empty and hollow, and in one's 
brain burned a bright flame of hate. That night were murdered fifty 
civilians and an additional fifty were wounded. There were two 
soldiers killed. 

Now, what was the crime that these unarmed civilians had com- 
mitted to be murdered in this bloody manner ? Their only crime was 
that they had voted to elect a government of the people, committed 
to the most moderate alleviation of the crushing burden of centuries 
of the greed of capitalism. The question has been raised : — why did 
they not stay in Malaga and await the entrance of the fascists? They 
knew what would happen to them. They knew what would happen 
to their men and women as had happened so many times before in 
other captured towns. Every male between the age of 15 and 60 who 
could not prove that he had not by force been made to assist the 
government would immediately be shot. And it is this knowledge 
that has concentrated two-thirds of the entire population of Spain in 
one half the country and that still, held by the republic. 


Malaga people sadly leave their home 
town, carrying with them the r chil- 
dren and their household goods. 



. . .■■■■: 

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The children rescue what toys they can. 

Tiny victims flee for safety. 

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••■ ■■! 

The endless procession takes a rest 
by the roadside. 

Nothing matters now - not even hor dolL 

Exhausted by flight family halts for rest; 

Hardly able to struggle on 

Her husband is dead. 

She must save 


Waiting for hOlp< 




Waiting in vain for a lift. 


The endless prooostrion. 

The trek to safiiy still goes on 

Thay passed by the villages along the road. 

%%*P^K: f £ 

{(Lunch time» - no bread, no water. 


A brief respite in a roadside cottage. 

Even children must tramp along. 

Sugar cane their only sustenance. 

A family rests. 

£oot - sore and weary, 



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Collapsed along the length of the route. 

In Almeria, international maohino- 
gunning also pursues fiercely the do- 
fenceless inhabitants of Malaga.